Compartir 84 English version

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october 路 november 路 december 2011 | Issue 84

| compartir | The magazine of healthcare co-operativism

HEALTH Kids, parents and paediatricians HEALTHCARE CO-OPERATIVISMO The Japanese Federation of Healthcare Cooperatives MONOGRAPH Fictional Doctors in Film CULTURE Espriu in Russia

You form part of our life


As a company set up by doctors, Asisa has always focused in particular on our medical professionals. You have been an essential part of the company's evolution, providing it with stability and the basis of the care it offers. Thanks to you, Asisa now faces the future with the confidence which comes with having the very best team.

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| compartir | october • november • december 2011


| Núm. 84





A different form of welcome | Elvira Palencia


Kids, parents and paediatricians | Dolors borau


Eating disorders: no teenage whims | D.B.


Cookery for beginners | Dra. perla luzondo



HEALTHCARE CO-OPERATIVISM ASISA welcomes Spanish synchronised swimming team back from success in China | ELVIRA PALENCIA


ASISA award for research into humanitarian medicine in Benin | E.P.


ASISA announces its 3rd International Photography Competition | E.P.


Dr. Rafael Matesanz brings the 11th Montpellier Conference Cycle to a close | E.P.


Moncloa Hospital wins Sanitaria 2000 award for Best Private ASISA convoca el seu III Certamen Internacional de Fotografia

FC Barcelona players with Assistència Sanitària

Centre in Madrid Region | E.P.


Busy end of year for SCIAS social participation department | Oriol Conesa


SCIAS holds annual general Assembly | O.C.


Barcelona hospital hosts Gravida Conference Cycle | O.C.


Assistència sanitària confirms its leading position in Catalonia | O.C.


FC Barcelona players with Assistència Sanitària | O.C.


Japanese Health Co-operatives Federation, a new IHCO member | Jose Pérez


Unimed Minas Gerais Delegation visits Hospital de Barcelona | j.p.


Programme of activities




MONOGRAPH Doctors staring into the abyss | Imma Merino


Jordi Armadans reflects on Susanne Bier’s film In a Better World. «It takes more courage to dispute than to plant a bomb» | Glòria Carrizosa


The Hospital of Complicity | Josep M. Lluró


Doctors’ values in cinema | Dr. Benjamín Herreros


Films about doctors at work: clinical medicine, education, research... xxx

and much more besides | Dr. B.H.



Barú Island

Pause | Miquel Àngel Llauger


Barú Island | Antonio García Redondo


We loathe big bellies, big words | Sebastià Moranta


Vicious circle | Joma


Medicine is a recurrent theme in the history of film, although the cinematic take on medical science, professionals or institutions has changed considerably over the course of more than a century.

| compartir | The healthcare co-operativism magazine Quarterly magazine. Fourth volume October, November and December 2011

Board of directors: Dr. Ignacio Orce (Autogestió Sanitària-ASC), Dr. José Carlos Guisado (president IHCO), Dr. Enrique de Porres (Lavinia-ASISA), Teresa Basurte (SCIAS), Dr. Oriol Gras (vicepresident Fundació Espriu) Director: Carles Torner Pifarré Contributing Editor: Sergi Rodríguez Contributors to this issue: Dr. Adolf Cassan, Dolors Borau, Dra. Perla Luzondo, Elvira Palencia, Oriol Conesa, Jose Pérez, Sergi Rodríguez, Imma Merino, Glòria Carrizosa, Josep M. Lluró, Benjamín Herreros, Miquel Àngel Llauger, Antonio García Redondo, Sebastià Moranta Photography and illustration: Glòria Vives; Jordi Negret; Edmon Amill; Elvira Palencia; Jose Pérez; eternidadycine. b l o g s p o t . co m ; f l i c k r Y E S , we l i ke MOVIES; enunmundomejor-lapelicula.; flickr televisaocultura; c a r l o s b r avo s u a r e z . b l o g s p o t . co m ;; fondosescritorio. net;;; Josep Valls “Pepo”; Pep Herrero; Mar Aguilera; Antonio García Redondo; Keith Adams; Joma Translations and corrections: Aba Congress and Jason Garner Cover photography: Editorial staff secretary: Joana Alcocer Advertising: Mª José Toledano Design and makeup: Bloc D Printed by: Indústrias Gráficas Afanias, S.L. Legal diposit: B. 33773-2005. Espriu Foundation. Av. Josep Tarradellas, 123-127, 4a planta 08029 Barcelona Tel.: 93 495 44 90 Fax: 93 495 44 92 Juan Ignacio Luca de Tena, 10, 3ª 28027 Madrid Tel: 91 595 75 52 NIF: G-59117887 The Espriu Foundation comprises the co-operativism Lavínia Societat Cooperativa, ASISA, Autogestió Sanitària (ASC) and SCIAS The opinions of | compartir | do not necessarily coincide with those in the signed articles. | compartir | is published on recycled paper and wishes to express its growing concern at the squandering of natural resources.

| compartir | october • november • december 2011

EDITORIAL What are the scientific boundaries of plastic surgery? And what are its moral boundaries? «The achievement of the protagonists of The Skin I Live In... is the expression of the ultimate aim... of plastic surgery: to create a skin which surpasses even human skin. So proud is Dr Robert Ledgard of his results that, although he hated and tortured the person who he experimented on, he feels he has created a new creature with which he falls in love.» So says Imma Merino in the opening pages about our monograph section. Why does fiction time and again turn to stories of doctors and patients? Because in this intense relationship between healer and healed we find the web of extreme experiences in human life and are pressed up against its limits. Almodóvar’s film is based on the novel by Thierry Jonquet: doctors in fiction easily cross the fine line separating literature from cinema. To mark the publication of Doctors in Film. Anatomy of a Profession, by Dr Benjamín Herreros, we decided to take a look at some of the most recent works depicting the medical profession. Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In ; In a Better World, by Susanne Bier, the winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, or David Grossman’s much-feted novel To the End of the Land are just some of the latest batch of cinematic and literary works confirming that the world of the consulting room, clinic and hospital remain today contexts to which fiction tirelessly turns. Whether they be in a first-class, cutting-edge facility in a Western city or a refugee camp in a war-torn African country or a slum neighbourhood of Tel Aviv. The director of the Foundation for Peace, Jordi Armadans, reflects on the doctor who is the protagonist of Suzanne Bier’s film: «As a professional he decides to go to a place where there are very few opportunities, to do a very challenging job with little rest, in an attempt to treat people who have no health care and attend to hundreds of victims of armed conflict. … As a doctor he finds himself in a moral dilemma: whether to operate on one of the military chiefs who are daily responsible for so many deaths and injuries. This brings him into conflict with the community, but in accordance with his professional ethics he feels that despite the barbarity of the man’s acts, he is also entitled to receive medical care». Professor Josep Maria Lluró has his emotions stirred by a remarkable scene from To the End of the Land, David Grossman’s novel which manages to bring to light the invisible world of Palestinians living as illegal immigrants inside Israel, highlighting the full tragic dimension of their plight. Because, as in the greatest tragedies, in the shadowy hospital which takes form in Grossman’s work we see the affirmation of the highest value which gives sense to the doctor’s task and adds suspense to the fictional works inspired by the medical world: the defence, above all else, of the value of each human life. «We hear, in that insalubrious clandestine hospital, without any equipment of any kind, how a life which begins weakened by illness, which perhaps will not flourish, is kept beating, saved for a moment, for a time, because, for the «fleeting shadows» for the «pallid» or invisible illegal immigrants, every life counts, every life must be lived to the end.»

HEALTH | prevent and CURe

Cystitis | Dr. Adolf Cassan

6 |

Cystitis means the inflammation of the bladder, the sack-like organ which stores the urine produced by the kidneys. The urine passes into the bladder via tubes known as ureters. When a certain amount of urine has accumulated and the right conditions occur, it is expelled from the bladder during urination. The origins of cystitis may vary considerably and are infectious in the majority of cases. They involve the invasion of the bladder by pathogenic germs which are mainly bacteria. It is a very common condition, in particular in women, because of the anatomical characteristics of the final section of the female urinary apparatus. The mechanism by means of which bacteria generally reach the bladder is well known, as they typically derive from the rectum, the final section of the large intestine, where under normal conditions there will be abundant bacterial flora. From this region germs can quite easily travel as far as the external genital organs, in particular in women, given that they find the conditions of heat and humidity they need to survive. To reach the inside of the bladder from the external genitals and proliferate there, the microbes simply have to move up the urethra, the tube which connects it with the outside. In men infections caused by this mechanism are less common, as the urethra is fairly long, measuring some 15 to 20 cm, which means that urethritis is more common in males than cystitis. A woman’s urethra is rather shorter, around 4 cm, making it quite common for bacteria to pass along as far as the bladder. Also, the mouth of the urethra is relatively close to the anus in women, making it easier for germs from the rectum to reach it. In fact, among young adults urinary infections of this type are some 50 times more common among women than men. Cystitis has typical and easily recognisable signs, essentially as a result of the irritation of the nerve endings on the walls of the bladder. The first symptom is usually a burning sensation during urination, which can sometimes become genuinely painful and make it difficult to pass water. Another characteristic symptom is the need to urinate frequently, passing very little urine on each occasion, because the nerve endings of the bladder, as

they become irritated, trigger the impulses which create the need to urinate before the bladder is actually full. This sympton is generally felt throughout the day, but is more obvious at night as it will force the sufferer to get out of bed in order to urinate, passing only a very small quantity each time. The urine may be cloudy as a result of the presence of remnants of germs and immune cells. It will also sometimes contain blood, giving it a reddish tinge, as the small blood vessels of the bladder may burst having become more fragile because of the inflammation. The discomfort may be more or less acute, and in some cases is almost constant. At times fever may even ensue, although it is more typical for body temperature to remain normal. The disorder will usually follows a benign course, and in most cases the symptoms will dissipate within a week, even without any treatment. It is, however, best not to let the infection simply run its course without any treatment, as it may give rise to certain complications. For example, the infection could spread to the upper urinary tracts and the kidneys, in which case it could become genuinely dangerous. Meanwhile, if no treatment is provided, even if the symptoms subside some localised microorganisms may remain in the bladder, which could give rise to chronic cystitis, characterised by ongoing inflammation and a recurrence of acute episodes as often as several times a year. And a chronic infection would be dangerous, as it could easily spread to the upper urinary tracts or otherwise lead to the formation of kidney stones. Cystitis is fairly simple to treat by prescribing antimicrobial agents, antibiotics, which will eliminate the germs. In the case of a simple cystitis one single dose or a three-day course of such drugs is generally enough, although on occasion it may prove necessary to maintain the treatment for a week or even longer. For chronic cystitis a longer treatment will always be required. The most important factor is to choose drugs which will be genuinely effective against the germs causing the infection and eliminate them completely. Antibiotics which act against the germs most commonly causing the di-

| compartir | october • november • december 2011

sorder are typically used. If the cystitis recurs, however, a urine culture will be needed to identify the bacteria responsible, along with an antibiogram to identify the most effective antibiotic. In the event of repeated episodes of cystitis, it may also prove necessary to prescribe regular antimicrobials in order to stop the infection from developing. The choice of drugs and the length of the treatment must, however, be left to a doctor, as the use of an inappropriate product or too short a course of

treatment could cause a chronic infection and the emergence of complications. Cystitis can be prevented, particularly in women, who are typically prone to the traditional microbial route from the rectum to the genitals, and from there to the bladder. There are in fact very simple but effective measures that can be carried out which unfortunately not all women bear in mind. To begin with it is essential to clean the genital and anal regions from front to back, not from the anus towards the genitals, since the latter action helps the germs to travel forwards. And as it is usual for there to be microbes close to the opening of the urethra, one should when urinating attempt to maintain a strong, uninterrupted stream, to make it more difficult for the germs to travel upwards. One further important preventive measure is to urinate after sexual intercourse, as it is common during coitus for the genitals to be compressed, making it easier for germs which were close to the mouth of the urethra to enter. Urination will serve to flush them out. If cystitis does arise despite these precautions, sufferers should go to see their doctor when the first signs emerge, since the earlier the treatment is begun the more effective and rapid will be the cure.

THE HOUSE OF THE WHEELCHAIRS Director: Francesc Torner Pifarré Technical orthopedic engineer

Glòria Vives

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HEALTH | infrastructurES

A different form of welcome The Patient Service Department, added value from Moncloa Hospital

| Elvira Palencia

8 |

«The redcoats», which is how patients affectionately refer to the members of the department wearing their distinctive coat, are very aware of the importance of companionship, help and psychological support in this difficult and at times very distressing situation. Whenever the slightest concern emerges in a diagnosis the process of support is put into action, as it is important to cover every eventuality. For the patient, her point of reference at the hospital will always be her «allocated redcoat»; the support process demands absolute dedication from the redcoat since he or she is the intermediary between the patient and the hospital in all aspects connected with her illness. «The Patient Service Department handles everything, from speaking to the doctors, arranging appointments, col­­lecting reports, presenting referral slips, etc. The aim in short is to help out in this difficult situation,» explains Paz, the «redcoat» assigned to us for our visit to the hospital. «It is important,» continues Paz, «that it is always the same person, because they’re familiar with the whole process, and so we avoid the patient having to explain and continuously repeat her situation, because at such a time patients have other concerns». «The outcome,» she goes on,» is peace of mind for the patient and an responsive service. The aim is that she should not feel alone or disorientated, in other words should feel that the process is a personal one. It’s a different form of welcome». «Another of our functions,» says Paz, «is to provide clear, transparent and concise information, but only what the patient demands, as everything else is the responsibility of the physician. The fact that they have the whole process explained to them helps allay the inevitable fears which arise in such a situation, and gives them the peace of mind of knowing that nothing is being hidden from them, and that the aim is as far as possible to see that they are cured». One of the key tasks of the «redcoats» is to attempt to ensure that the process is as swift and responsive as possible «as this is the essence of success in most cases». «And they are accompanied to all the departments connected with their pathology, we speak to the department head, to the physician treating them, we schedule appointments with gynaecology, radiology, surgery,

plastic surgery, oncology... we pick up the reports and so on,» Paz explains. The process is not always the same, however, as each case has its own specific requirements, and the «redcoats» must be flexible enough to adapt from one moment to the next in order to ensure that neither they nor the patients waste time, and that they arrive at the hospital when everything is ready for the appointment with the specialist. Paz tells us that «apart from psychological support we also answer the question: so what do I do now?». «We establish a close relationship with them, they know us, they phone us up to resolve any queries and they arrive at the hospital confident that there is someone there waiting for them, who will accompany them and resolve all their problems, and that they will not need to take care of anything themselves». The support process does not end when the patient is discharged, however, but continues during subsequent checkups. Each patient’s «redcoat» will be there waiting with her clinical records in hand and the schedule of new tests. The recognition and thanks which the department’s members receive also extends to relatives, who feel great relief when they see these friendly faces who relieve them of their responsibilities and accompany and guide them at a time of such uncertainty. At the end of our visit «our redcoat» opens up to reveal the huge satisfaction which they feel when, in among the flowers and chocolates, someone says to them: «You don’t know how happy I am to have come across people who have made things so much easier in such a difficult situation».

| compartir | october • november • december 2011

BREAST UNIT The Moncloa Hospital Breast Unit offers a multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer, linking the healthcare knowledge and resources of the institution with the effectiveness of treatment offered by the team headed by Dr Javier Román, a medical oncology specialist and the unit’s supervisor. This new unit is made up of a group of highly thoughtof healthcare professionals who use clinical symptomatology and cutting edge technical facilities to combine principles of diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of patients suffering from breast conditions in a personalised manner. Breast cancer is the most common malignant tumour in women and remains a genuine threat to health, representing the second most frequent cause of death by cancer in women in the Western world. It is estimated that in Spain some 16,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year, with early detection of the tumour being the best weapon in achieving survival. Over recent years there has been a marked reduction in deaths from this type of cancer in developed countries as a result of the success of early detection or triage programmes, technological progress and the effectiveness of new individualised treatments, which now mean that most women suffering from breast cancer can be cured if they are detected in time. According to Dr Roman, the diagnosis and treatment of this pathology “has become one of the most highprofile over recent times because of the importance of early diagnosis, and the possibility of less aggressive treatments which have a lower impact on patients’ quality of life”. The Breast Unit is made up of a multidisciplinary team of specialists comprising gynaecologists, radiologists, oncologists, surgeons, nuclear medicine specialists, psychologists and plastic and reconstructive surgery specialists, in order to achieve optimum results while maintaining the patient’s quality of life and aesthetic image. The Patient Service Department also offers human support and individual treatment for each patient attending the unit.

As for the route taken to arrive at the Unit, it is important to stress that the point of entry could originate from a number of different departments and services at Moncloa Hospital, along with referrals by specialists from their own consulting rooms. The way in which this new unit has been set up allows for the swiftest possible procedure in planning the treatment to be followed, while also introducing patients to the specialists who will be treating them throughout the process. This results in more personalised and comprehensive care for each patient and makes it easier for the different specialists to study each individual case jointly.

The idea is to give greater dynamism to the diagnosis and/or treatment process, and so irrespective of where the diagnostic process begins, the Moncloa Hospital Patient Service Department works to ensure that all examinations or cross-consultations required are as far as possible performed on the same day. Technological development today plays a vital role in the diagnosis of breast cancer. Moncloa Hospital has in place the most advanced technology for the early diagnosis of breast cancer. However psychological support is also very important as a breast cancer diagnosis and the subsequent adaptation to normal life involve a huge emotional impact. This involves a series of psychological and social consequences unfamiliar to the individual affected and her family, and this cannot be overlooked. The aim of the Breast Unit is to provide the individual affected with comprehensive care, in order to achieve a better quality of life and help restore normality. It is vital to offer both patients and their relatives psychological support in order to achieve the best results.

| Carolina Manrique


health | user’s corner

Kids, parents and paediatricians | Dolors Borau

10 |

during the birth of their child by the companies’ professionals and institutions are guaranteed care for their newborn and paediatric support until the mother returns home. At the age of 10 days (ASC) or 15 (ASISA) they will need to register the child with the organisation in order to gain access to the full range of services. It is true that our instincts come into play automatically, and that mothers and fathers intuitively know whether their babies are content or troubled even if they cannot explain themselves, but nonetheless at this stage in a child’s life the role of the paediatrician is vital. During the baby’s first few months of life a paediatric specialist will monitor the child’s growth and physical and mental development. They provide guidelines s to follow in terms of: proPaediatric l the physica per feeding; teaching the d n a s ie tholog lace Both the pa hich take p baby sleep­ing habits; the w es g n a ce l ch and menta h o o d a n d a d o le s c en schedule of vaccines to d r il ula d u ri ng c h these partic h be followed (which has of c ti is er it are charact uite unconnected w served to reduce child q d stages, an ult life. mortality and improve d a of s se the proces quality of life); the appropriate treatments when children fall ill,

Parenthood is without a doubt the most life-changing experience in our lives. If all goes well, the pregnancy was planned and the child is born healthy, the joy of holding your baby in your arms makes you forget the huge burden of responsibility. Unfortunately, if anything untoward happens during the birth, the weight of responsibility and parental concern can prove unbearable. It is helpful, then, in all such cases for the parents to be able to call on the support of a medical specialist: the paediatrician. Mothers with an ASISA or Assistència Sanitària policy who have been cared for

and they can also answer all our queries about routines, types of food, games or forms of upbringing. Experience helps, of course, but each child is unique and there can be major differences even among siblings. At this stage of a child’s life the relationship with the paediatrician is a close and constant one, even if the newborn does not have any health problems. After the first year and a half, if all goes well, there will then be annual checkups along with the sheduled inoculations. It is quite common during early infancy, though, and above all when children begin at nursery or infants’ school, for them to fall ill, as they each catch one another’s germs. In such cases a relationship of trust with a paediatrician who is familiar with their young patients’ development and state of health gives parents considerable peace of mind. The ideal bond between parents and doctor would be one of sincerity: the parents need to trust in paediatricians, while they in turn need to give the advice required in order to allow the parents to follow the prescribed recommendations and treatments. Only in this way can one guarantee effective health monitoring for the youngest members of the family.

| compartir | october • november • december 2011

ASISA and ASC policyholders h ave th e a d va n t a g e of being able to choose from a long list of paediatricians, and can change or look for a different doctor nearby if they move home. It is also important to have access to a comprehensive list of specialists with no waiting lists, from among the areas which are most likely to be need­e d at some time: ENT, endocrinology, neurology, traumatology and orthopaedics, allergology, dermatology and paediatric surgery. Traditionally paediatric medicine would deal with children from birth up to the age of adulthood at 18. Both the pathologies and the physical and mental changes which take place during childhood and adolescence are characteristic of these particular stages, and quite unconnected with the processes of adult life. ASISA’s paediatricians treat children up to the age of 14, while with Assistència Sanitària the maximum is 18 years, if the parents and children so wish. We all know that adolescence is a period of major transformation, and girls and boys often wish to be treated as adults by family practitioners from the age of 14 or 15. It is precisely at this age that it is essential for teenagers to enjoy the trust of their parents and medical professionals in order to allow them openly to express their concerns about their health and their physical,


t Negre

psychological and emotional development. This makes it essential to establish a dialogue between physician and family, and allow youngsters at all times the chance to find an intermediary. This is an age when problems which cause adolescents considerable anguish and concern

may arise. It is also the point at which certain unhealthy habits may emerge: smoking, drinking and other substance abuse; unhealthy dietary habits or unsafe sexual practices. Both companies offer psychiatric services for adults and children alike. ASISA provides a psychotherapy service for temporary psychological conditions (stress, depression, eating disorders) covering 20 sessions p er year. A ssistència Sanitària now offers a new service including 15 annual child and adolescent clinical psychology sessions for patients aged under 19, provided they are referred by one of the organisation’s paediatricians or psychiatrists. Childhood and adolescence are the periods when an individual is truly formed, and it is essential to have in place all the resources required to guarantee that our boys and girls grow up strong and healthy.

The bond between parents and doctor must be genuine: the parents need to trust in paediatricians, while they in turn need to give the advice required in order to allow the parents to follow the prescribed recommendations and treatments

| 11

health | a user’s tale

Eating disorders: not teenage whims

12 |

My partner always has to be upto-date with what is going on in the world day and night. He listens to the news on the radio, on the telly, buys a newspaper every day, and on Sundays two. Around the corner from us is the local newsagents, which sells a bit of this and a bit of that. The owner is a small, fidgety, very tidy woman who always knows where everything is: paper, cards, pencils, magazines... Sometimes she is helped out in the shop by Laura, who went off to do the last year of her degree course abroad. We had not seen her for a long time, but a few days ago my husband told me that Laura was ill, that he had seen her in the shop and that she looked dreadful. She is quite a tall girl, plump and full-figured, the opposite of her mother, just like her dad. We have lived in the same neighbourhood for years now and have seen her grow up. She had always struck me as a very bright girl. When my partner told me that Laura was not looking too good it surprised me, because he is not usually one to notice such things. When I went into the shop, though, I understood straight away: Laura was sitting on a stool behind the counter and looked like a ghost. She was so thin that you would scarcely recognise her face. I am ashamed

Jordi Negret

| Dolors Borau

to say that my expression gave me away, as I realised when I noticed the look on her mother’s face. Two days later the newsagent and I bumped into one another in the bank, and perhaps because she needed to speak and get a weight off her mind, or because she remembered my look, she asked if we could talk. The doctors had told her that it had all begun a long time before, when she was at high school, but that

they had not noticed at home. During adolescence it is difficult to come to terms with the changes which your own body goes through, and if you stand out for any reason (your height, your weight, your bra size...), that can lead to comments making it more difficult to fit in. «And without realising I made it all worse: I was always on at her not to eat so much, to watch her diet... I told her she was overweight».

| compartir | october • november • december 2011

Eating disorders are not just a question of age, adolescent whims which will pass with time. They are illnesses characterised by the adoption of abnormal behaviour with regard to food, and dissatisfaction with one’s own body image Laura was an outstanding student who used to get top marks, but still wanted to do better. She was very demanding. «She’s a perfectionist, like us,» her mother told us, «but now I realise that we went too far». Her parents had noticed the odd thing, but didn’t realise what was going on. They now know that at high school she started eating secretly, and then later came the weekly binges: eating a huge quantity of highcalorie food non-stop. She would feed herself until she was fit to bust. Her troubled conscience and sense of guilt forced her to induce vomiting and to purge herself with laxatives. Now they know to view with suspicion a habit of always going to the bathroom after eating. Their family life got worse: Laura was really irritable, it got more difficult to talk to her, she became distant from her friends and her studies were not going well. When her parents went to see their family practitioner with her, though, she was open to being helped. Such cases call for the care of specialist doctors or referral to a unit which deals with this type of disorder. All three of them were committed to making sure she got better: to begin with by introducing new dietary habits for the whole family, while Laura began psychotherapy. She got better, but things then got worse again when she went off abroad on her own. On her return they got a real shock: Lau-

ybe they hadn’t realised that her friends were ignoring her, maybe they hadn’t paid enough attention when she had tried to tell them, maybe... But they help her in any way they can and now clearly understand that in such cases it is essential to be understanding, not to criticise, accuse or apportion blame in any way. Nor should one ever use bribes or punishment, but simply ask the sufferer to accept help. The family’s role during treatment is fundamental, and it is essential to follow the guidelines set out by specialists. She explained it to me quite clearly: the best thing you can do to avoid such disorders is to adopt positive dietary habits, to eat all together, maintain good communication between parents and children of all ages and encourage a critical attitude towards trends, the surrounding world and the excessive importance given to fashion icons.

ra was incredibly thin and even more distant, but this time she refused to go to the doctor. She was older now, and they could not convince her. She would disappear at mealtimes and did not eat with them, she threw herself frantically into exercise, and became increasingly self absorbed. The first time around they had reacted in time to treat the onset of bulimia, but now Laura was suffering from anorexia nervosa which had led to malnutrition. Her mother tells me that she has now learnt that such eating disorders are not just a question of age, adolescent whims which will pass with time. They are illnesses characterised by the adoption of abnormal behaviour with regard to food, and dissaWhat t o do? tisfaction with one’s own body image. The doctors The bes t thing explained to her that theyo d i s o rd e r s i s t u can do to a re can be numerous cauo adop void su habits t po ch , t ses behind the illness: a good c o e a t a l l t o g s i t i v e d i e t a r ommu e y t h e r, m certain genetic predisnicati and ch aintai on be t ildren n ween p position, personal disof a criti arents c a l a t t all ages and i satisfaction, individual encour tude t s u r ro u o w a rds age n d i ng tre temperament, family w or l d import a n d t h n ds , t h e ance g iven to e dietary habits, overfashion e x c e s s i v e i c protective mothers, ons. adverse circumstances, the pressures of today’s aesthetic model, roles at school and within peer groups... Ma-

| 13

Over 2.000 pages to share Over 500 activities for getting to know the Foundation. Over 50 publications to consult in our newspaper library. Over a hundred other healthcare co-operativism websites to visit. Over 2.000 pages to share with you.


| compartir | october • november • december 2011

Cookery for beginners | Dra. Perla Luzondo Peas with bacon and boiled or poached eggs To serve one • one 400 g packet of frozen peas • 1/2 onion • 1 egg • 50 g of bacon • olive oil, salt and black pepper

When our children leave home or go off to university in another town, we typically buy them a simple cookery book and pass on their favourite family recipes, worried as we are that they will overindulge in fast-food and ready meals, although often we have not taught them the basic principles of how to run a kitchen. If they live in a shared flat and the various tenants all cook separately, they will only have one shelf available in the fridge, making it essential to plan menus. The Spanish Heart Foundation has published a short information book, sponsored by ASISA, teaching parents how to prepare children for when this day comes. It is entitled Heart-friendly Cookery for Busy Families. The book stresses the idea that healthy eating is simple, cheap and tasty, highlighting the importance of shopping, stocking up and using your imagination.

The rest of the peas can be eaten the next day with a little white rice, as a stirfry, or mixed up with sweet corn, or be tossed into a meat and potato stew at the last minute.

IMAGINATION: cook for two consecutive days with a change in presentation. For example, if you have a jar of white haricot beans, the first day they could be served as a hearty stew with chorizo or sausage, while the second half of the jar could be eaten as a salad or served with sausages or pork chops with finely chopped parsley and olive oil.

Edmon Amill

Boil the peas and the washed egg in half a litre of boiling water for 10 min. Fry the bacon in a drop of oil and stir around in the frying pan with half of the strained peas. Cook for a few minutes. Add the salt, the ground pepper and a little olive oil.

SHOPPING: do a weekly shop to fill up the fridge and one staple shop per month to stock up the cupboards and freezer to help save money, time and energy. • Into the fridge goes the weekly shop of yoghurts, fresh vegetables, fruit, sliced meats, cheese, eggs and raw produce such as meat, fish or poultry purchased as ingredients. Half a lemon will keep the fridge odour-free. • Into the freezer with the produce bought frozen, such as vegetables, rissoles, fish. Home-made stews, frozen in individual portions, should be defrosted in the fridge, while vegetables, rissoles and so on can be cooked straight from frozen. Food should NEVER be refrozen. • A well-stocked kitchen cupboard will help in planning menus and improvising at short notice. The vital ingredients are: virgin olive oil, rice, flour, milk, sugar, salt, pasta, noodles, jars of lentils, chickpeas and haricot beans, cartons of vegetable or meat stock for soups, cereal, tins of tuna, sardines and anchovies, tins of sweet corn and sweet peppers, chopped tomato and passata, dried fruit and nuts, vinegar, herbs, ground coffee, instant coffee or drinking chocolate, potatoes, onions and garlic. Crispbreads and sliced or farmhouse loaves.

Peas can be bought frozen throughout the year. They contain complex carbohydrates, mainly starch and vegetable proteins. A handful of peas is as rich in vitamins C as two whole apples; it contains more fibre than a slice of wholemeal bread, and more thiamine than a litre of milk. Served with eggs, bacon or ham peas make for a complete meal in terms of fats and proteins, offering considerable nutritional value.

cooperativism | ASC-ASISA

ASISA welcomes Spanish synchronised swimming team back from success in China | Elvira Palencia

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On 25th July, ASISA, who have been the sponsors of the Spanish sychronised swimming team since 2005, welcomed the swimmers at a gathering of journalists held at the Barcelona office. ASISA representative for Barcelona and Secretary of the Lavinia Steering Council, Dr. Antonia Solvas, congratulated the swimmers on their excellent performance in the championships and their haul of six

medals (one silver and five bronze). They explained that they had competed to the best of their ability, taking the greatest risks in terms of artistic

creation, in comparison with to the more technical approach of the Russians and Chinese. From now on they will be preparing for the forthcoming London Olympic s which their rivals are already anticipating. They will be making a great effort, working hard, being innovative at the same time as being ambitious they also have their sights set on the Barcelona World Championships in 2013.

ASISA award for research into humanitarian medicine in Benin | E.P.

ASISA and the URJC (King Juan Carlos University) have honoured Madrid’s Alicia Ahijada for her research project on humanitarian medicine, and specifically the effectiveness of measures to prevent the Buruli ulcer in a rural area of the African country of Benin. The award, which comes with a cheque for 6000 euros, is one of the Chair of Humanitarian Medicine initiatives promoted by ASISA in partnership with the URJC. There was also a second prize for the best academic record at the Faculty of Health Sciences, again worth 6000 euros, which was presented to nursing student Nuria Díaz Blázquez.

The two organisations began their partnership in 2010 with the creation of the ASISA Chair of Humanitarian Medicine at the URJC. Included in their collaboration is the sponsorship by ASISA of a module of the Master’s course in humanitarian medicine offered by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine which deals with with medical care in conflicts and refugee camps. ASISA has considerable experience in supporting the training of future professionals in this field of social and health care, having worked on a similar project with Madrid’s Complutense University in the past.

| compartir | october • november • december 2011

ASISA announces its 3rd International Photography Competition | E.P.

For the third year running, ASISA is organising its International Photography Competition, with the aim of fostering talent and creativity. Last year a total of 1186 works by 159 photographers were submitted. For this third year ASISA has kept the competition open to both amateur and professional photographers, provided that they live within the European Union. The new feature this time around is that entrants can choose from among three categories: an open category, ‘maternity and infancy’, and ‘the natural world’. ASISA has decided to increase the value of the prize to 5000 euros for the overall winner, while also increasing the number of awards to 24 for the three categories, each accompanied by a cheque for 300 euros. The jury will be made up of celebrated photographers, who will be handing out the awards and selecting photos for a travelling exhibition and the publication of a catalogue.

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cooperativism | ASC-ASISA

Dr. Rafael Matesanz brings the 11th Montpellier Conference Cycle to a close | Elvira Palencia

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The 11th Montpellier Conference Cycle drew to a close on 30 June with a conference presented by Dr Rafael Matesanz, Director of the ONT (National Transplant Organisation). Dr Alfredo Perez, Director of the Montpellier clinic also attended the event. Over the course of the past eleven years the Montpellier Conferences have featured a total of 77 events of scientific interest and

social impact, with contributions by 107 leading national and international experts in their respective fields. «A resounding success,» according to Dr. Pérez. Entirely sponsored by the Montpellier Clinic and ASISA, the programme is intended to present medical and scientific knowledge both to the general public and the health authorities. It also serves as a forum

for the presentation of scientific discoveries, reflection and debate among health care professionals. Dr. Matesanz was introduced by the transplant coordinator for Aragon, José Ignacio Sánchez, who in speaking of the ONT’s role around the world declared it «the only such Spanish organisation known in all five continents».

| compartir | october • november • december 2011

Moncloa Hospital wins Sanitaria 2000 award for Best Private Centre in Madrid Region | E.P.

Moncloa Hospital stands out as one of the only Spanish hospitals to hold the European Seal of Excellence at a level of over 500 points, as awarded by the Excellence in Management Club. It was also the first hospital to be awarded five stars by the EFQM in the Recognised for Excellence in Europe ratings. Underlying these awards is the knowledge that first-class, accessible and responsive health care services exist. These services make efficient use of resources and demonstrate a commitment to technological development, administrative innovation and to improving results even further Moncloa Hospital’s Managing Director, Juan José Fernández Ramos, received the award in the presence of the Madrid Regional Health Minister, Javier Fernández-Lasquetty, who highlighted the ongoing commitment to quality and the excellent work performed by the professional staff of Moncloa Hospital.

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Dr. Juan José Fernández Ramos thanks the organisers and the Madrid Regional Health Minister for the award

cooperativism | ASC-ASISA

Busy end of year for SCIAS social participation department | Oriol Conesa

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The months leading up to the summer holidays are always an active time for the SCIAS Social Participation Department as it rounds off the courses, workshops and cultural programmes which began in October the previous year. The end of year party is now an established event, and regularly attracts a large number of members who attend the ceremony at where diplomas are handed out to the spokespeople, secretaries and coordinators. Trophies are also awarded on the same day to the win-

ners of the boardgame championships held during the year. After an activity-packed year, the members, coordinators and the rest of the team responsible for this communal forum for the exchange of knowledge and experience take a break, before embarking on a further programme of events in September, for which new activities and ideas are already in preparation. The programme of conferences, both medical and cultural, has now come to an end, and as always the

high levels of attendance at the talks served to demonstrated the interest they arouse. Dr. Humet, Medical Director of Barcelona Hospital, gave a medical address on the centre’s administration and operations, also mentioning the key figures that run the clinic. Dr. Lima, meanwhile, devoted his talk to «Cardiovascular Diet», with the aim of explaining what healthy eating habits involve, and Dr. Faust i Riera spoke about «Osteoporosis: diagnosis, treatment and prevention». Apart from talks about

| compartir | october • november • december 2011

medical issues, the well-known physicist and meteorologist Francesc Mauri was on hand to give a talk about «Downpours and Flooding», and music expert and journalist Victòria Palma delivered a seminar on the intriguing career of Francesca Vidal, partner of Pau Casals and one of the finest cellists of all time. A s well a s co nfe re n ces a n d events connected with social and

health care, a wide range of other activities were also offered. In terms of visits, having explored Barcelona’s Egyptian Museum and the recently consecrated Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, members enjoyed outings to the town of Balaguer, with its beautifully preserved mediaeval old town, and to a number of villages in the district of Matarranya. The theatre group for its part gave a highly suc-

cessful public performance, and the SCIAS choirs took part in a number of major events. The Auditori, one of Barcelona’s premier concert halls, hosted the Pluja de Sons choir’s exchange concert, while the Pompeia church was the setting for the end of year concert given by all the SCIAS choirs.

SCIAS holds annual general Assembly | O. C.

As laid down in the co-operative’s corporate bylaws, on 18 June SCIAS held its Annual General Assembly, the most important event in the organisation’s yearly calendar. This highest ranking decision-making body allows members to debate issues of interest regarding the organisation’s operations, with dele-

gates voting in the decision-making process as the representatives of the institution’s members. For the fourth year running the assembly was chaired by SCIAS President Teresa Basurte, and took place at Barcelona’s Hilton Hotel. Preliminary meetings were necessary in order to select delega-

tes, to agree advance resolutions and for preparation so that the assembly of the co-operative’s most important governing body would run as smoothly as possible. These meetings took place at various locations prior to the Annual General Assembly in the weeks running up to 18th June.

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Barcelona hospital hosts Gravida Conference Cycle

Assistència sanitària confirms its leading position in Catalonia

| O. C.

| O. C.

The Gravida reproduction centre, based on the sixteenth floor of Barcelona hospital and offering Assistència Sanitària’s guarantee of quality health care, is beginning a season of conferences. The purpose of these conferences is to provide a high level of informaton to all those who are interested in finding out about the various issues and techniques involved in assisted reproduction and to answer any queries they might have. A team of professional experts has been selected to deliver a full range of conferences, which will be held in the hospital’s auditorium. The aim of these conferences is to offer those attending first-hand information about the options available from the range of assisted reproduction techniques, and the sessions are therefore being run by the centre’s own highly qualified and specialised team. The talks are entitled: - «Pregnancy: the ideal time. One of the most common concerns of couples» [22/06/2011] - «Do we need assisted reproduction?» [21/09/2011] - «Egg reception and donation programme» [05/10/2011] - «How an embryo is created and grows in vitro» [02/11/2011] After each talk there is a question and answer session and specialists answer further questions raised at the end of each conference.

Assistència Sanitària closed the 2010 financial year having once again confirmed its leading position in Catalonia in terms of premiums, with an overall volume of 175.77 million euros and a total of 199,482 policyholders, 0.73% up on the previous year. A slight year-on-year increase in the number of policyholders was also registered during the first few months of 2011. 2010, a year marked by the economic crisis and reductions in household expenditure, saw Assistència Sanitària maintain its dominant position, with a market share accounting for 13.14% of the volume of premiums. Also, although it operates only in Catalonia, where 26% of the population have some form of medical insurance policy, the organisation has maintained its eighth place in the nationwide rankings, ahead of major international insurers. The organisation’s knowledge promotion initiatives were a key feature of 2010, in terms of both training and research. The Assistència Sanitària Bursaries Programme for doctors and nurses successfully completed its third funding round (with preparations now being made for the fourth), and has since 2008 represented an overall investment of close on 100,000 euros. Support is also given to scientific progress and research through studies promoted

in the clinical field, more specifically at Barcelona Hospital, which in 2010 was recognised by the medical community for the work performed by its Paediatrics and Neonatal Department with late premature babies, anthropometric benchmarks and growth curves. Since it was created more than 50 years ago, in line with a cooperative healthcare model based on self-management and an equal role for doctors and users on decisionmaking and administrative bodies, Assistència Sanitària has been a pioneer in the private health sector in Catalonia, with close on 4000 practising doctors on its books. Experts in the sector take a very positive view of the model, which has been studied by the US authorities with the idea of setting up a similar system in the United States. Within the debate about the sustainability of the Spanish health care systems, proposals have also been made to introduce self-management by doctors and nurses as a way of improving results. Assistència Sanitària is a non-profit organisation which pays out no returns on capital (all profits are reinvested to improve facilities or personnel), and has become one of Catalonia’s flagship institutions, as well as one of the shining examples of the co-operative movement in the country.

| compartir | october • november • december 2011

FC Barcelona players with Assistència Sanitària | O. C.

Every year during the summer months the transfer season begins in the world of international football, with Assistència Sanitària, as FC Barcelona’s official medical provider, playing a key role. And so during July and August Barcelona Hospital was visited by players such as Kiko Femenía and the Chilean Alexis Sánchez, along with other stars of the football world and sportsmen from other sections of the club. The members of the senior squad also go through their medical checks when they return from holiday, in order to make sure they are in top condition. The SCIAS facilities are used to undertake a comprehensive medical examination with essentially radiolo-

gical and analytical tests, including resonance scans, x-rays and various types of analysis. Cardiology tests, along with muscle eco-graphs and other podology tests, meanwhile, are performed at the health facilities located at Barcelona’s Camp Nou Stadium. Under the terms of the sponsorship agreement, Assistència Sanitària provides FC Barcelona with the medical insurance policies and hospital

services it requires, both at Barcelona Hospital and at the FC BarcelonaAssistència Sanitària Medical Centre located at the Camp Nou, specialising in sports medicine and traumatology, and open to the organisation’s policyholders. This partnership, which began in 2005, is based on the shared values of the two organisations, both Catalan flagship institutions and leaders in their respective fields: sport and health.

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cooperativism | institutional relations

Japanese Health Co-operatives Federation, a new IHCO member | Jose Pérez

Dr. Yasuyuki Takahashi, Chairman of HeW Coop Japan

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The Japanese Federation of Health and Welfare Co-operatives, HeW Coop Japan, which has been in operation since October 2010, is the new institution representing the Japanese health co-operative movement within the IHCO, the International Health Co-operatives Organisation. The new federation, chaired by Dr. Yasuyuki Takahashi, is a cooperative organisation that brings together and acts for Japanese cooperatives who are engaged in the provision of medical and healthca-

re services. These include nursing care, home care, elderly people care or administering any kind of health care facility, such as hospitals, primary care clinics and rehabilitation facilities. During its first year the federation has successfully brought together 115 co-operatives, representing more than 2,710,000 members. It has 78 hospitals, with an overall capacity of 12,500 beds, and more than 900 facilities ranging from primary care clinics to dentistry practices, rehabilitation centres, etc. Legislation in Japan demands that co-operatives perform the bulk of their economic activities exclusively among their members, placing almost complete restrictions on access to the non-member market. There is, however, a certain margin for co-operative action within the health sector, as the law allows services to be used by third-party non-members up to a limit equivalent to one half

of the co-operative’s turnover. HeW Coop Japan has nonetheless been engaged in an intense campaign to convince health service users of the benefits of co-operative membership, persuading 80% of health cooperative users to become members and take part in the organisation’s daily affairs. This membership success is largely the result of numerous initiatives organised by the federation focusing on its grassroots members, above all addressing prevention and health promotion and the involvement of volunteers. Particular mention should also be made of other activities of the federation such as those focusing on the corporate administration of co-operatives. These include training programmes for staff, support and consultancy on management systems and coordination among associate co-operatives for the joint purchasing of medical and pharmaceutical materials.

Unimed Minas Gerais Delegation visits Hospital de Barcelona | J. P.

Dr. Gerard Martí and Unimed Minas Gerais delegation at Hospital de Barcelona

On 10th June a delegation of doctors and managers, lead by Dr Helton Freitas, from Unimed medical cooperatives in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, arrived in Barcelona to attend a working session held at the Hospital de Barcelona. At the workshop Dr. Gerard Martí, Deputy Medical Director of Hospital de Barcelona and one of the Espriu Foundation’s trustees, gave a presentation about the concept of the hospital and how it works in practice. He also spoke about the relationships that exist between the institutions that make up the Grup Asistència and their activities. The delegates exchanged

opinions and experiences on different aspects of co-operative and hospital management and raised a number of possible future forms of cooperation between the Espriu Foundation and Minas Gerais’s health co-operatives. Dr. Martí then accompanied the Brazilian co-operative members on a tour of the hospital’s facilities, giving them the chance to find out about some of the most innovative equipment in the hospital.

Programme of activities 25-28 octOBER


16 November

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2011 17 November


18 November


18 November


41st Unimed National Convention From 25 to 28 October Brazil’s Unimed health cooperative is holding its 41st National Convention. This event, entitled Cooperative Governance: transforming the Model’ will be held in Fortaleza, the capital of the state of Ceará in north-east Brazil. One of the aims of the convention is to consider different approaches possible for structuring the Unimed cooperative system, at a time of constant change in the Brazilian health sector.

IHCO General Assembly The International Health Co-operatives Organisation will be holding its General Assembly in Cancun (Mexico), under the chairmanship of Dr. José Carlos Guisado, Vice-president of the Espriu Foundation.

Cooperatives and Development Conference The International Organisation of Industrial, Artisans and Service Producers’ Co-operatives and the International Health Co-operatives Organisation, both ICA Sectoral Organisations, will organise a joint conference in Cancun (Mexico) to examine and discuss the potential of cooperatives as a tool for social and economic development.

Health Promotion Forum On 18 November the Alliance for Health Promotion is holding a meeting in Geneva to be attended by representatives of NGOs and community of the general public, as well as representatives of governments and agencies of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation. The aim of the forum is to put into action the work done by the general public and to explore the strategies necessary to advance the Health Promotion agenda.

ICA General Assembly The General Assembly of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) will be held in Cancun (Mexico). On this occasion, in addition to addressing statutory issues, the assembly will be the kick-off to the events connected with the UN International Year of Co-operatives.

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Province-State Telephone

cooperativism | MAILBOX

MAI LB OX “In memory of a dearly cherished doctor of Seville” To my dearest Patricio, wherever you may be in heaven.

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How hard it is to lose a friend, all the more so if you have not been able to say goodbye. I miss you hugely, all your many qualities, so sympathetic, so friendly, so wonderfully polite, so correct and always ready to help me in any way you could. And how little I was able to give you in return! Our last conversation was by telephone; Christmas had passed and I phoned to wish you a happy New Year, never imagining that it would be the last time. You spoke to me with enthusiasm and hope, you told me how important life was and not to worry about illnesses which were trivial compared with the beauty of living. How ironic reality at times can be! I never realised back then how much your absence would pain me. You knew me almost better than I know myself, and although we had been friends for sixteen years and spoke about so many things, you never told me anything about your own

illnesses. I thought you would be here for a good long time to come, and the devastating shock of your departure left me dazed. It was very hard to tear up your last prescription, because with it your very essence passed away. Others will speak of your unquestionable professional standing, but your approach, your constant willingness, were surely felt by many patients. I would more often than not leave your practice feeling more optimistic, as if you were an older brother, I would tell you how my studies were going, money matters even, would feel that we both got angry at the same injustices. You were, in short, a good man. As I write this I feel a lump in my throat, and my eyes have misted over. I know that you would not want me to remember you with tears, and so I try to pull myself together, but your huge loss hurts. Until we meet again.

Ana Rosa García

Fictional Doctors


The relationship between medicine and cinema has evolved over the years. Originally films were mainly documentaries, focusing above all on medical progress. Later they came to concentrate on fears about the advances of medical science, giving rise to works such as The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and Dr Mabuse. The service aspect of medicine provided the central theme for many subsequent works set against the backdrop of the major armed conflicts of the 20th century. The internal dynamics of the profession have, meanwhile, been the focus of many recent films. The last few years have also seen an inclination towards the portrayal of the more human dimension of medicine: the physician as an individual with dreams, frustrations and, above all, values.

Doctors staring into the abyss Imma Merino


edro Almodóvar remarked that the plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard, the protagonist of The Skin I Live In, is an amoral figure unscrupulously exacting vengeance. As the plot develops, however, he ruins his quest for revenge by applying the results of research (the creation of an especially hard-wearing skin) derived from his desire to rectify a misfortune for which he feels responsible: the burns to his wife’s body caused by an accident. She died some time earlier, but he continues his research, achieving a successful conclusion with the human guinea pig who is the object of his revenge. I do not know what scientific basis and plausibility Robert Ledgard’s research and results may have, but as with other works of fiction what matters is the metaphor. The victory achieved by the protagonist of The Skin I Live In, based on the novel Tarantula by Thierry Jonquet, is a manifestation of the ultimate aim of plastic surgery (with all the hazards this entails and the possible


monograph | compartir |

transgression of moral limits): to create a skin which surpasses human skin itself. So proud is Robert Ledgard of his results that, although he hated and tortured the being on which he experimented, he feels he has created a new creature with which he falls in love. This obsessive doctor, who Almodóvar does not hesitate to describe as a psychopath, feels himself to be a new Pygmalion with his Galatea, while overlooking the fact that he has changed the appearance of a being which preserves its identity. T he t he r ap e ut ic or ig i n s of R ob e r t Ledgard’s research meanwhile change in intent as he gives rein to his obsession and exacts vengeance. Above all, and in order to give voice to his concerns, Almodóvar as always refers to a literary and cinematographic tradition which, through different variants, questions the uses of science and also its procedures in order to achieve the goals which are often far from clear, and may be very dark indeed. Such experiments may be

Illustrations: Josep Valls «Pepo»

connected with human pride, and even be an expression of, or the vehicle for, evil. They also tend to bring their perpetrators to the edge of madness, if not plunging them into insanity itself. Medicine is a realm dotted with such experiments, hence the range of medical characters who exemplify this perversion of science. One fundamental modern figure in this regard is Dr Frankenstein, dreamt up by the Romantic writer Mary Shelley. It is a novel which over the years has been the subject of a wide range of interpretations, the most intriguing of which suggests that the «monster» is rejected because of its strange appearance, its extreme difference. In any event, Dr Frankenstein, who creates life using fragments of corpses, in other words using death as his material, was at the time viewed from a conservative perspective running counter to the Enlightenment as an example of the arrogance of science in its desire to rival or even replace God. Over time, the dangers of science, and above all of technolo-

gical applications, have been challenged from a humanistic perspective freed from the burden of religion. The issue is that, aside from his fundamental role and literary origins, it should perhaps come as no surprise to that the world of film has taken such interest in Dr Frankenstein and his creation. From James Whale’s film at the very start of the 1930s onwards, filmmakers have regularly returned to Mary Shelley’s novel, which was supposedly inspired by a Scottish doctor who applied electric shocks or did something equally as cruel to animals. What matters, though, is the suggestion that there is something comparable between Dr Frankenstein’s aim and

Medicine is a fertile ground for such experiments, hence the range of medical characters who exemplify this perversion of science




monograph | compartir |

those pursuing an invention which could reproduce reality in its movement: a desire to create life, or perhaps a semblance of life. Frankenstein uses corpses for this. And in cinematic terms we find references to his spectral nature, a place populated by ghosts, images preserving the dead as if they were living. Victor Erice’s masterful film The Spirit of the Beehive is an updating of the Frankenstein myth which also shares this aspect. Cinema has not simply mined literature, as in the case of Dr Frankenstein, in its depiction of doctors who, through their forbidden experiments, approach the verge of madness. There are countless versions, including the wonderful Jerry Lewis comedy The Nutty Professor, of the novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in which Robert Louis Stevenson explored the duality of good and evil (or the way in which, in the context of England’s puritanical Victorian society, moral repression leads to a virulent outbreak of evil) through the experiments of Henry Jekyll, who is described as having the typically large, white, well-formed hands of a doctor. After drinking a potion, Jekyll, tempted to break with moral conventions, becomes his own evil counterpart, practically turning into Mr Hyde. It should likewise come as no surprise that filmmakers have so often turned to Stevenson’s novel, given that film has almost since its very origins revealed an interest in transformation, the way in which things and beings can change. While Jekyll experiments on himself, Dr Moreau experiments with animals on an island. He is another doctor drawn from literature, in this case a novel by H.G. Wells, who provided filmmakers with a range of plotlines including The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine and The Invisible Man, the latter involving a scientist who experiments with invisibility on his own body. Burt

Lancaster, in a film directed by Don Taylor in 1977, and Marlon Brando in another by John Frankenheimer from 1996, both played the role of Dr Moreau, who experiments with animals in order to make them human on an island, where the sole human survivor of a shipwreck marooned on the island will ultimately be the only human survivor. These «humanised» beasts, however, revert to their animal nature, and the doctor pays for his «madness» in a fight in which he dies while killing the puma-man. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, one of the most famous films of German Expressionism, features one of the most disturbing doctors in cinematic history, who in this case is not drawn from literature. Francis, the narrator of Robert Wienne’s 1920 film, explains that Caligari and the sleepwalker Cesare, who is under the doctor’s control, are implicated in a series of murders. He discovers that Caligari is the director of a psychiatric hospital, although without adding in any other plotlines it ultimately turns out that Francis, and other characters in the film, are patients at the psychiatric hospital which is indeed run by Dr Caligari, who is, then, a murderer only in the disturbed mind of the narrator. This ending, however, was imposed by the producer, in order to moderate the film’s allegorical intentions by turning it into an the story of a madman: just as Caligari himself dominates the sleepwalker, Cesare, causing him to commit murder, the German state had driven its sleepwalking population to kill during the First World War. All the same, despite the twist in the tail and the fact that when the film was made Hitler’s rise to power still lay in the distant future, the film does include certain disturbing aspects which could be viewed as presaging Nazism. Film historians such as Sigfrid Kracauer and Lotte Heisner,




monograph | compartir |

when he made it he was thinking about Eyes Without a Face, the 1960 film by French director Georges Franju. This is easy to see. A surgeon, Dr Génessier, kidnaps young women to rip off their skin with the aim of restoring the lost beauty of his daughter’s face after she is disfigured as a result of an accident for which he feels responsible. His every attempt fails, however. Shortly after the plastic surgery, the girl’s skin begins to degenerate again. Despite his criminal nature, Franju arouses a strange kind of compassion towards Dr Génessier. It may be that, beyond the macabre plot line, the metaphor prevails: failure in an attempt to recover lost beauty (and, over time, youth). An awareness that medicine has its limits and that there are incurable pains which go beyond the skin.

©flickr YES, we like MOVIES

have in fact interpreted the horror films of German Expressionism as a reflection of an incipient unease at the first signs of Nazism. A movement which with chilling rationalism built the concentration camps to exterminate people, while also providing psychopaths such as Dr Josef Mengele with a remarkable opportunity to experiment. This beastly man, one of the worst of the Nazi criminals, performed all manner of brutal experiments on human beings in Auschwitz over two years, but was inexplicably not even referred to in the Nuremberg trials, and after living for a time in Germany itself fled to South America, first Paraguay, later Argentina, and lastly Brazil. Protected by other Nazis and even some governments in the countries where he lived, Mengele successfully escaped the clutches of Nazi hunters and extradition. There is an interesting documentary about this criminal who died in 1979 called Mengele, the Angel of Death. A year earlier, drawing on an Ira Levin novel, Franklin J. Schaffner directed The Boys from Brazil, a work of fiction inspired by the sinister character of Mengele, whom it is imagined experimented on Brazilian boys in an attempt to clone Hitler. The terrible Mengele is played by Gregory Peck and the Nazi hunter in his pursuit by Laurence Olivier, who not long before, in John Schlesinger’s Marathon Man, had played a Nazi doctor based on the so-called Angel of Death. Some time before cloning became possible, literature and cinema had, then, through The Boys from Brazil, warned us of its dangers by means of an extreme example. Science does in any case become terrible when used as the instrument of totalitarian powers, and those who employ it with a cruelty which convinces us of the existence of evil, or when pressed into service by those capable of turning people into commodities. Returning to Almodóvar, a post-modern filmmaker who plucks elements from here and there in order to construct his films, who said whilst talking about The Skin I Live In, that

Jordi Armadans, political scientist and journalist has, as Director of the Foundation for Peace, supported numerous disarmament campaigns which have borne fruit, such as the banning of antipersonnel mines. He believes that we live in a society which approves of violent acts to resolve conflicts not only on the battlefield but also in our personal lives. Violence, though, is a spiral which generates further violence. Only through reason and dialogue can we overcome our problems. This opinion is shared by Anton (Mikael Persbrand), the protagonist of director Susanne Bier’s film In a Better World, the Danish work which won this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Jordi Armadans reflects on Susanne Bier’s film In a Better World : «It takes more courage to dissent than to plant a bomb»

Pep Herrero

Glòria Carrizosa Servitje

Jordi Armadans, political analyst and journalist

- You recommended this film in your blog. You describe it as a story packed full of pertinent questions and debates. - It wasn’t expected to win, because it is not a commercial film. It includes various subplots. Anton is a doctor who works in a camp for refugee camp in a country at war. An endeavour with good intentions, although his decisions impact on the development of the conflict.

- How does the protagonist experience life working in the medical profession? - As a professional he decides to go to a place where there are very few opportunities, to do a very challenging job with little rest, in an attempt to treat people who have no health care and attend to hundreds of victims of armed conflict. He does this for several months of the year, and then returns to Denmark. As a doctor he finds himself in a moral dilemma: operating on one of the military chiefs daily responsible for so many death and injuries. This brings him into conflict with the community, but in accordance with his professional ethics he feels that despite the barbarity of the man’s acts, he is also entitled to receive medical care. In any event he does set limits; the general arrives with an escort of armed soldiers, and Anton tells them that no weapons will be allowed into his camp. There are moral dilemmas which seem like questions of yes or no, but the situations involved are often not black and white. Anton does not let his henchmen enter the camp because it is a place of peace.




The dominate culture in society today legitimates violence, and we are the children of this tradition, so when we are faced with an extreme circumstance we tend to respond with violence - When Anton returns home he has to face up to other challenges, such as bringing up his son. - At times it can seem easier to sort out problems away from home than to try to deal with one’s own. The protagonist has two children, and one of them, Elia (Markus Rygaard) raises what to me is the most intriguing issue dealt with in the film: how to respond to a situation of violence. His son is bullied at school, and he and his friend Christian respond with more violence. Elia’s father attempts to distinguish between violence and courage, teaches him how to defend his beliefs in a peaceful manner. It is an interesting reflection which can be applied in many spheres of society: at school,


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work, in family relationships. Elia and Christian have problems, they are marginalised from the group, and a sense of vengeance gradually builds up inside them in response to actions which harm them. It is a good metaphor for what happens in many circumstances. But violence simply generates violence creating a dangerous spiral. This is what tends to happen in armed conflicts: such as the Palestinians and Israelis justifying their actions by claiming that some given immediate act demands a «robust» response, while the political dispute is left so far in the distance as to be forgotten. The protagonist defends his rights, gives his opinion, but that does not mean there is any need to harm or attack anyone while hiding one’s face, which is commonplace. Violent people are associated with bravery, but act in a concealed manner, without being seen. It requires much more courage to engage in a civil dissent than to plant a bomb, or kill someone from afar. The dominate culture in society today legitimates violence, and we are the children of this tradition, so when we are faced with an extreme circumstance we tend to respond with violence. The gradual replacement of this culture of violence with a culture of peace is an essential task demanding a considerable raising of awareness. It is a process which operates deep down and in the long term; it takes time to change people’s values. - The protagonist feels the anguish of living in the North while experiencing the injustice of survival in the South. - In the North you don’t find the cases of blatant injustice that there are in the South, but that does not mean that our world is idyllic. When he walks out of his front door in Denmark he sees a perfect landscape, but conflicts still exist, such as his relationship with his wife, or the upbringing of his son. The film brings in plot lines which reveal the difficulties faced by people living within a welfare so-

ciety in facing up to and resolving social and personal problems.

- Is weapons expenditure at a time of economic crisis even more scandalous? - Yes, of course, it is an obvious example of the topsy-turvy thinking we see in our world: you cannot have a quarter of the global population dying of starvation, with no drinking water, living in subhuman conditions, and spend so many millions of dollars on military expenditure. A fortune is spent in the expectation of hypothetical attacks, and meanwhile there are no resources to resolve real problems. It is a huge contradiction. The economic crisis has been with us for years now and last year’s figures for military spending were even higher. If we spent just 5% or 6% less on the military we could do away with hunger. That is a brutal fact in itself.

Pep Herrero

- How does the Foundation for Peace approach its attempts to change this culture which justifies violence? - Our actions focus in particular on educating people in a culture of peace. We cover not only the world of education, but also put on exhibitions throughout Catalonia, training courses, talks, and we have a very active website. Ours is a large-scale initiative raising awareness to promote this culture of peace. We also deal with issues of disarmament, arms control, support peace processes in conflict zones. We need a change in our values, but also of course in political decisions, and as far as we can we attempt to foster that. Together with other organisations we monitor the Spanish arms trade, call for strict controls over the trade to ensure that it complies with the legislation in force. We have been involved in international campaigns, such as with antipersonnel mines. When you see that public pressure, if well organised, is able to bring to an end the production of such weapons, you feel a small but tangible victory.

Jordi Armadans is a political analyst and journalist. He holds a doctorate in Social and Political Theory from Pompeu Fabra University, and has been the head of the Foundation for Peace since 1996. The director of the Intermon Oxfam Disarmament campaigns, he has been involved in peace issues since he was a young man: conscientious objection, peace education, etc. He has a blog,, where he shares articles about issues of peace and human rights, along with analyses of current affairs. He makes regular contributions to a number of media outlets and advises NGO on peace-related issues.



The Hospital of Complicity Josep M. Lluró


he plotline is easy to explain. A (Jewish) woman hails a taxi driven by an (Arab Israeli) driver with a licence to travel between cities in Israel. The journey is to take them from her home (close to Jerusalem) as far as Tel Aviv. By night. An unusual trip. When the taxi arrives, the passenger finds to her surprise that she is accompanied by a six-year-old (Arab) child who seems to be seriously ill. They have agreed the route and price. The (Palestinian) taxi driver has given the (Jewish) woman a condition: they will halt for five minutes at the entrance to the city. At a hospital. When they arrive, they do just that. But it is not in Tel Aviv (in fact it is Jaffa), and it is not a hospital. It is a primary school by day, which by night operates as a clandestine hospital for «illegal» Arabs in Israel. When asked by the Jewish woman, the Palestinian man replies: «It’s a hospital for illegal immigrants. For those who have an accident at work, for those who get beaten up». The man and the woman have known each other for some time. Hence his frankness in answering her. That is why he was able to re-


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quest this strange condition of her, their longstanding acquaintanceship the reason why he agreed to take on what for an Arab Israeli taxi driver is a dangerous journey from Jerusalem to Jaffa, and then on to Tel Aviv. Because of their past relationship... and to take a child suffering from a strange illness to a hospital which is no such thing. The taxi driver and passenger are also contractor and client. He, Sami, works for her exhusband, and has for years been the family’s «taxi driver». She, Ora, maintains towards him what seem to be close bonds of patronage and consideration. She would seem to have a degree of friendship towards him. She believes that his deference towards her is (at least was, up until today according to the novel) a sign of respect and regard. What happened on that today in the novel, some hundred pages earlier? In the morning Ora arranged for Sami to take her twenty-oneyear-old son Ofer to the army base from where he will be dispatched to the border with Lebanon, in the most recent of Israel’s countless wars. On that morning trip Sami was exposed by his friend/patron to danger and humilia-

he in exchange for the favour asks her first to accompany him, in other words to be his accomplice, in taking an «illegal» child to a clandestine hospital. In this masterful chapter of To the End of the Land, Israeli writer David Grossman traces a delicate moral portrait of a country sick with hatred, fear and violence. The key moment of the chapter is specifically their arrival at the clandestine hospital. It becomes a metaphor for the struggle between life and death, between racism and openness, between hatred and love, and it is in this space created by Grossman that the author hovers over the conscience of his protagonist to survey the ethical abandonment of a traumatised country. Although it is Ora who observes, who explores the school/hospital, it is Grossman, and with him ourselves, who see and hear it. What do we see? «Thin shadows», «men in rags», silent, swift-moving figures. What do we hear? Murmurs, the muted voices of threeyear-old children playing in silence, «like injured partridge chicks». What do we find? A school which is a basic, improvised hospital, the only light coming in from outside in order

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tion. This is clear. Not so much to her, who only understands it later, when she returns home. How could she have exposed her friend/ employee to possible danger, because after all what would an Arab be doing close to an Israeli military base? Was he perhaps a spy? A terrorist? How could it have occurred to her to ask an Arab to take an Israeli soldier to the base from which he will set out to kill other Arabs? How could she, without asking his permission or forgiveness, make him an accomplice in the destruction of his own people? When she returns home she decides to go and look for a friend of hers and of her exhusband, Abram, to go on a journey through Galilee. Abram needs her. Ora will, in fact, be his «hospital». Taken prisoner by the Egyptians during the Six Day War, tortured and kept under a brutal regime of isolation, on his return to Israel Abram will never again feel at home. He too, in his own way, has become an «illegal»: someone who Israeli society tolerates but does not welcome. A person whose existence is for his compatriots the confirmation of their collective weakness, their fragility. Ora, abandoned by her husband a year earlier and by her eldest son, who has taken his father’s side; Ora, who has taken her son off to war in a taxi, decides to receive and look after Abram, to be his «hospital» for a few days. This is not, though, an act of generosity. When she leaves home, Ora already feels intuitively that her son, Ofer, will not come back from the war. She decides, then, to become an «objector-of-bad-news». If, she says, she refuses to hear the news of her son’s death, she will not be contributing to the culture of death which weighs like a lead weight over her country. No, she will not be complicit in the the death of her son by receiving the news. And yet it was she who accompanied her son to the army base. Then, despite what happened that morning, she phones Sami again to take her to Tel Aviv, where Abram lives, and


not to arouse the suspicions of local residents (and when it does, the next day they relocate), where a doctor and a few nurses strive to treat the sick. Who do we speak to? Grossman, and with him ourselves, speaks to no one, but listens (we listen). Ora’s internal dialogue about the fact of having taken her son to his probable death. Ora explaining to an old Palestinian woman who barely understands Hebrew the story of her friend Ariela, who when six months pregnant was told by the doctors that her child was «mongoloid», and so agreed with her husband to abort. The lethal injection which was to kill the baby and provoke the abortion proved insufficient, however: it would indeed die, but still survive for a few minutes outside the womb. And


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Ariela, Ora tells us, asked to be given the newborn child as it gave its dying breaths. The baby would take fifteen minutes to die, while Ariela talked away to him and smothered him with kisses. He was a normal child in almost every way, Ariela explained to Ora, except that he «seemed not to have a voice». And during those fifteen minutes she gave him a whole life, «although it was she, says Ora, according to Ariela, who had killed him, or was at least complicit in the decision to kill him». Exactly the same as when Ora took her son to the military base: an abortion postponed. And then there is lastly one other thing which we see and hear w it h Grossman through Ora in the hospital which is no such thing. We see and hear it after the two con-


fessions of complicity in the death of Ariela’s son (which has already occurred) and Ora’s (which will happen, although we do not receive confirmation of this in the novel). We see Ora watch a woman breastfeed the child they brought in the taxi. We hear Sami explain to her that the child has a rare digestive illness which causes him to reject all food except for three or four things, including mother’s milk. And we hear, in that insalubrious clandestine hospital, without any equipment of any kind, how a life which begins weakened by illness, which perhaps will not flourish, is kept beating, saved for a moment, for a time, because, for the «fleeting shadows» for the «pallid» or invisible illegal immigrants, every life counts, every life must be lived to the end. Because

in that luckless corner of the world and of mankind, in that marginal neighbourhood, that shadowy hospital filled with spectres, Grossman tells us that we should not be the accomplices of death, but boldly assert that every life is a life.

How could it have occurred to her to ask an Arab to take an Israeli soldier to the base from which he will set out to kill other Arabs? How could she, without asking his permission or forgiveness, make him an accomplice in the destruction of his own people?



Doctors’ values in cinema Benjamín Herreros. Internal Medicine Department, Fundación Alcorcón University Hospital. Professor of Medical Humanities, European University of Madrid


alues, interpretations of the facts of the material world, are intangible qualities perceived emotionally and intuitively. This idea of values tied to the emotions, proposed by Max Scheler in the early 20th century, is broadly accepted today. The French verb émouvoir is derived from the Latin emovere which is in turn a combination of ex (outwards) and movere (to move, to remove from a place, but also to shake up, as an emotion shakes our soul). And so the initial meaning of emotion was a movement of the soul or spirit. In other words, something that inspires emotion in us is something which moves us. And that is what cinema aims to do, to shake our souls. Moving emotions. Arousing feelings and values. Emotions (and hence the perception of values) depend on prior experiences, context and one’s upbringing. An individual will have a higher regard for the medical profession if he or she has been well treated while in hospital, and will form a negative image (have a


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negative perception of doctors) if a doctor has acted rudely towards, or made a serious mistake in the treatment of, a relative. Cinema, given its ability to move and arouse emotion, can help generate a positive or negative image of doctors. After witnessing Dr. Rawlins (Nigel Havers) in Empire of the Sun (1987) the viewer will think of doctors as educated, dedicated individuals. Meanwhile, after watching The Fugitive (1993) they may associate them with untrammelled and destructive ambition. Are the values of medicine represented in film? The cinematic image of doctors is a multifaceted one. One could weigh up the values revealed by doctors in films in order to establish whether the depiction is a favourable one or not. Some of the values reflected are positive (bastion of society, professional, determined, heroic, educated, esteemed, restless, idealistic or compassionate), while others are negative (insensitive, unconcerned, arrogant, resentful

or cruel), while yet others allow for a range of interpretations, as they could be either positive or negative values depending on the context (strict, competitive, sceptical or ambitious). The doctors who ban Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton) from smoking and drinking alcohol in Witness for the Prosecution (1957) could be viewed as strict professionals, but also censors limiting individual freedom, as Sir Wilfrid Robarts himself felt in his rebellion against prohibitions. Do the values of medicine coincide with the values ref lected in on-screen doctors? Every ethical system prioritises a series of values. Individual ethics are based on an individual’s preferred values, while social or civil ethics are based on the priority values of a society. Medicine also has certain priority professional values. These are the values which drive doctors towards fulfilment of their professional purpose, namely that of restoring lost health or maintaining health before it has been lost. They drive them towards professional excellence. The prestigious US bioethics research institution The Hastings Center undertook a study between 1993 and 1996 entitled The Goals of Medicine. It started from the premise of the new problems which have emerged in medicine: decision-making with critical patients, problems with genetic research, limited financial resources... These problems threaten the resources and purpose of medicine. The response to such new scenarios was coming through resources (further technological development), but there was also the need for a focus on the purpose involved (health research). The definition of health most widely accepted internationally is that of the World Health Organisation (WHO): Perfect state of physical, mental and social well-being. Health is, then, not simply the absence of illness, nor can it be achieved from a purely organic perspective. This holistic WHO defi-

nition of health could end up classifying us all as ill. It is an unrealistic and unachievable concept of health, hence the considerable levels of frustration among both doctors and patients. The former because they cannot properly do their job, and the latter because they are unable to achieve this highly prized commodity. The Hastings Centre report concludes that the purpose of medicine should be health research, but from a realistic perspective. To cure where possible, and otherwise to palliate and alleviate. It stresses the importance of treatment and support for patients. It also focuses in particular on the preventive facets of medicine: to prevent an illness from arising or to minimise the damage it could cause. Many values have been set out to guide doctors towards fulfilment of their purpose, and there still exists an ethical obligation to implement them. Some of these values are a capacity for study, perseverance, intellectual humility, honesty, an ability to share knowledge, communication skills, empathy, compassion, cooperation, curiosity and an enquiring mind, professionalism, understanding and responsibility. Many of these values



are to be found in cinematic doctors. We also, though, find many negative values: coldness, arrogance, untrammelled ambition, individualism, egotism, lack of understanding, irresponsibility, lack of professionalism, scepticism, confusion or even cruelty. The values portrayed in cinematic doctors would seem to be fairly balanced. There are virtuous doctors, but there are also less appealing characters. The fear of changing values The depiction of doctors in film has depended on their role in society. A role which was has changed from the 1920s to the 21st century. Doctors have progressively lost their idealised status and some of their authority. At the same time, though, citizens have also become aware of the advances offered by medical science, while doctors share their decisions with their patients. It is undeniably true that there are more complaints brought against doctors, but also a better understanding of the considerable efforts required of a medical professional in order to do their job properly. So as to better understand the change which has occurred in medicine, the evolution of the role of the doctor must go handin-hand with the changing values seen in societies. Human history has over the ages progressively discovered and dismissed values, and the same applies to medicine. An authoritarian physician was well regarded in the 1940s, but would now be described (or rather condemned) as arrogant. Dr. Robert Richardson (Lew Ayres) in Belinda (1948) is an exemplary doctor who takes decisions against the will of the family, and even on occasion the patient herself. The values he represents, which were so powerful in the early 20th century, would today be questioned. Values change not only over time, but also with culture. The fact that values may appear, disappear or change their position within a society’s ethical hierarchy may lead


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to resentment among individuals identified with a particular scale of values, either because they do not accept the new principles as values, or because they fear that their own values may be lost. Doctors brought up within traditionally authoritarian medicine, used to dominating their patients, find it difficult to understand now that it is patients who make the decisions and that the modern role of the physician is as a qualified advisor, just as it is hard for a medical graduate of the 21st century to understand the paternalism of the doctors of the past. Internal balance Although there may exist preeminent social values and professional values (in this case in medicine), ultimately it is individuals who decide. Individual ethics are based on the preferred values of each subject, and focus on virtue, on the optimum (the best possible) for any given subject. The values implemented will depend on an individual’s conscience. The obligation (from the Latin obligare, to tie or tie up) binding that individual to the different values involved in a specific circumstance, while also considering the possible consequences of a decision. These are the key factors in ethical decisions, values, circumstances and consequences. In such a process an individual evaluates and classifies values. As a metaphor one could think of each person as having an «inner balance» used to weigh up considered values, and thereby to classify them. Each person has a different «balance» and applies his or her own hierarchy of values to any given circumstance. This «inner balance» can be educated. It has been pointed out that values are perceived via an emotional route, and so emotional education in the appreciation of values is important. Ultimately, though, with the education and upbringing we receive as individuals, it is down to us to decide. And it may arise, as in Death and the Maiden (1994)

Although there may exist preeminent social values and professional values (in this case in medicine), ultimately it is individuals who decide. Individual ethics are based on the preferred values of each subject that a physician such as Dr. Roberto Miranda (Ben Kingsley) tortures innocent citizens for political ends, going as far as sadism. We also, though, recall the actions of Dr. Junju (David Oyelowo) in The Last King of Scotland (2006), helping his European colleague, ultimately saving his life while losing his own in order to help his people. The fact is that two doctors with a similar education will deal with the same situation differently, because they have different «inner balances». One thinks of the medical students Lucas Marsh (Robert Mitchum) and Alfred Boone (Frank Sinatra) in Not as a Stranger (1955). It is true that they are from different backgrounds, but also have a different approach to their professional future as a result of the values which dominate the individual ethics of each. Although, in fact, in daily life it is the individual who makes the decisions and lives with the consequences of these, it must also be stated, in mitigation of physicians, that the implementation of medical values does not depend only on them as professionals. The context, professional structures and society itself often make things difficult. Dr. Sullivan Travis (Richard Gere) in Dr. T and the Women (2000) ends up running away because his work and family life lead him to the verge of mental breakdown. Where this inner balance lies, how it is calibrated and which weights have the greatest mass remains a complete mystery.



Films about doctors at work: clinical medicine, education, research... and much more besides Benjamín Herreros. Internal Medicine Department, Fundación Alcorcón University Hospital. Professor of Medical Humanities, European University of Madrid


edicine is a multi-faceted profession. It is a discipline typically associated with clinical practice. Clinical practice is itself the origin of medicine, although over the years, or rather the centuries, other professional roles have also emerged. This offers reassurance to those beginning a medical degree course, since if they ultimately are not attracted by clinical medicine they can always focus on a some other aspect of the discipline. Below is a summary of the different roles of medicine and the way in which cinema has reflected them in accordance with their own historical importance. Clinical medicine Clinical practice came first. And for many it remains the essential core of medicine. One dictionary, for example, gives as its primary meaning (which is what concerns us here) «the practical pursuit of medicine in connection with direct observation and treatment of


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a patient». The word ‘clinical’ comes from the Latin clinice, in turn derived from the Greek klinike. Kline was in Greek a cot or bed, and derived from the verb klinein (to lean), in turn from the Indo-European root kli (to lean). The klinike was the place where medicine was practised, alongside the patient’s bed. And so from ancient times clinical medicine has been directly associated with the patient, direct bedside observation. Clinical medicine directly observes the patient in order to issue possible medical judgements: diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. Since ancient times this has been the main role of doctors, as seen in films such as Sinuhe the Egyptian, which tells the story of a doctor in ancient Egypt. In the Middle Ages science was dominated by magic, witchcraft and superstition, the role of doctors being a secondary one often associated with such obscurantist practices. Doctors seldom appear in mediaeval films, a reflection of the limited importance which academic medicine had at the time. They on occasion crop up as

secondary figures around the courts of kings and nobles. 1997 saw the release of Destiny, a film about the life of the 12th century doctor and philosopher Averroes, although it does not focus on the medical aspects. In the Middle Ages, medicine stood in the background. In the Modern Age there was an explosion of science and medical progress, a fact reflected in the appearance of more doctors in historical films, almost always in connection with clinical medicine, such as the heroic 17th-century doctor Captain Blood, or the superficial Marivent in Restoration, also from the 17th century. During the Enlightenment medical knowledge grew further, as seen in the multifaceted physician portrayed in Master and Commander, or Dr. Broughton (Geoffrey Chater), the doctor in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. These are doctors who by this stage have a greater scientific grounding, generally faced on screen with dramatic situations:” a “grounding and who, on screen, generally have to face dramatic situations:

serious illness or even death. In films about the 19th century we find many more doctors, almost always engaged in clinical practice at the patient’s bedside. One recalls for example the doctors in The Magnificent Ambersons, performing home visits, or those in Gone With the Wind, working in the field hospitals. The predominance of the clinical role of medicine means that most of the doctors portrayed in cinema are clinicians, a fact also ref lected in literature. Clinical medicine, meanwhile, has many other aspects, almost as many as there are specialisms. Cinema has portrayed family medicine (La Maladie de Sachs), rural medicine (Cradle Song), surgery (Awake), gynaecology (Dr T and the Women), paediatrics (Love is a Many-Splendoured Thing), psychiatry (Analyse This), emergency medicine (Bringing Out the Dead), clinical medicine involving hospitalised patients (Young Doctors in Love) in the consulting room (Hannah and her Sisters) or patient rehabilitation (The Men), which is also clinical medicine.



Away from strict clinical practice, in the sense of the direct healthcare relationship with patients, we find many doctors involved in diagnostic and therapeutic processes which are not necessarily clinical. These are often known as basic specialisms, as the data they provide serve as the basis in establishing diagnostic or therapeutic judgements. They are the radiologists, microbiologists, analysts and anatomical pathologists. Just because they are «basic specialisms» does not necessarily mean that they are not involved with patients, as they may come into contact with them when performing a test. One example of such basic specialisms may be found in Medicine Man, where we find a doctor (Sean Connery) working in a research laboratory. Teaching Teaching is another part of medicine. The very earliest ethical code of Western medicine, the Hippocratic Oath of the School of Hippocrates (from the fifth century BC) itself states: «I swear to consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him. To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art, without charging a fee. By my knowledge I will impart knowledge of this art to my own sons, and to my teacher’s sons, and to disciples bound by an indenture and oath according to the medical laws, and no others». The final line of the text suggests an elitist approach to medicine in its very origins. The Hippocratic oath reveals that, alongside clinical practice, teaching is present right at the birth of medicine. In ancient times there were no doctors dedicated solely to teaching, as is now the case. Teaching must, though, go hand-in-hand with the next facet of medicine: research. Many


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films deal with medical tuition in various phases, from the lecture hall (Vital Signs) to the hospital (Not as a Stranger). Some of them deal with the core aspects of medical teaching, such as discussions with the tutor (The Spiral Road) or teaching at conventions (Frantic). Research Beyond the role of clinical physicians and educators, there is another aspect to medicine: research. Up until the so-called Scientific Revolution, science cannot truly be viewed as such, since there existed no scientific method, the means by which the scientific basis of an affirmation is demonstrated. This is the way in which we prove whether a hypothesis is reasonably plausible. The revolution in science dates from the 16th and 17th century, courtesy of such geniuses as Copernicus, Galileo and Francis Bacon. However, even during these centuries medicine continued to be nothing more than speculation. An updated version of the Corpus Hippocraticum. Francis Bacon himself asserted that medicine was a conjectural science based on principles without foundation. In Britain, Thomas Sydenham successfully applied Bacon’s scientific method to medicine during the 17th century, although Hippocratic medicine was still a presence. One important figure in the development of experimental medicine who cast aside mere traditionalism and speculation was the Frenchman Claude Bernard. Through his method he sought out scientific hypotheses which could be demonstrated by experiment. It was in the 20th century that medicine became truly scientific. This does not, however, mean that all medicine today is entirely scientific. Many films directly or indirectly touch on medical research, such as Dr Arrowsmith, Medicine Man, Awakenings, or The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, although mention should par-

ticular be made of a highly notable Spanish film: Time of Silence. Specifically because of the particular difficulties facing Spanish doctors in their research. These three facets: clinical practice, teaching and research, are the three cornerstones of medicine. Many doctors find themselves divided between two or even all three facets. The doctor in Master and Commander researches, albeit botany and zoology, while clinical practice is his main role. The same applies to the protagonist of Dr Arrowsmith, although he also teaches. And much more besides... Beyond the core of clinical, teaching and research medicine, there are many other medical practices. Some are highly specific and involve specialist training, such as preventive or forensic medicine, while others lie outside specific academic training and have their own individual character, and so should not be overlooked, such as healthcare management, development cooperation and military medicine. The world of cinema also finds room for such medical pursuits, with the preventive role being portrayed in The Painted Veil, forensics in Suspicion, army field surgeons in M*A*S*H and development cooperation doctors in The Last King of Scotland. And to conclude we have those doctors who deal with the inevitable end: death. In Hereafter, Clint Eastwood gives us his vision of the beyond, through the arguments of a hospice doctor who plays a key role in the film.

Benjam铆n Herreros is a practising doctor specialising in Internal Medicine at the Fundaci贸n Alcorc贸n University Hospital. He also teaches Medical Humanities and Bioethics at the European University of Madrid and the Complutense University. One of the issues he has most often addressed is medicine in film, and he recently published the book Doctors in Film. Anatomy of a Profession (T&B Editors, 2011).






It is no easy task in a few brief pages to summarise the cinematic take on medicine. However, the filmic narrative of recent years has given a new dimension to the presence of doctors, nurses and hospitals on the screen, essentially in parallel with their depiction on TV. What we have now are not heroes, but people; no profit motive, but a vocation to serve; less fascination with advances, and more admiration for their social roles; fewer grand moments, and more everyday happenings; not an exploration of their collective status, but a personal commitment to health care. Preventive medicine also takes priority over the curative role. Cinema now views medicine above all from a combined human and social perspective.

| compartir | october • november • december 2011

PAU S E | Miquel Àngel Llauger

Dead languages She says she learns dead languages just to tell him she adores him in Sumerian, just to tell him in Coptic he’s as handsome as a palm loaded with dates or nights of a half moon, just to tell him that life by his side is all light, and tell him so in Sanscrit. Diligent, she has burning eyes from long nights poring over stone alphabets and words that decline like roses shed their petals. She thanks the gods who are also no more becasue he does no exist.

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Mar Aguilera

(From the book “A la gran Babilònia”, 2011)

Barú Island

TEXT and PHOTOGRAFY: Antonio GarcĂ­a Redondo

This series of photos was taken in Colombia, specifically in the villages of Ararca and Santa Ana, on BarĂş Island. In the report montage I attempt to show how surprising it is to discover that in Colombia there is a specific region where the population is of black African origin. The full work aims to reveal their similarities with their contemporaries on the African continent: habits and customs, ways of life, social coexistence, behaviours, etc. As may be seen in a number of these snapshots, as in most African countries daily life is lived on the street, outside the huts, shacks or modest houses. I also wanted in this series to depict the strength of the family in this society, and the community

feeling which exists, with both young and old gathering to play, stroll or chat about their lives. I lastly wished to focus on the faces and attitudes revealing the characters in each selection: happy children playing in the street with anything they might come across, youngsters going for a quiet stroll, the engaging smiles exchanged between adult neighbours, etc. In short, the ultimate aim of the work, as summarised in this selection, is to depict an Afro-Colombian society, originating from the transportation of slaves to the Americas, which has successfully maintained its traditions, habits, customs and ways of life, adapting to the circumstances of its current setting.

cULTURE | reMEMBERING salvador espriu

We loathe big bellies, big words | Sebastià Moranta

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The time was right for revolution, social poetry and protest songs. Dictatorships of opposing camps throughout Europe brought about a shared desire for change and for music, as poets raised their voices against those «big words», the imposed, lifeless language of power. In the Soviet Union the pioneers of the generation of the «thaw» recited verses in front of mass audiences in theatres and stadiums. Lluís Llach performed in Warsaw in 1977: his tunes were soon to become the unofficial anthems of Poland’s prodemocracy movement, with the trade union Solidarnos´c´ setting the lyrics of Jacek Kaczmarski to the chords of «L’Estaca» («The Stake»). There was a widespread re-reading of the classics, as in any political era: «Taras Shevchenko is our protest song,» proclaimed a young Ukrainian poet, spurred on by a wave of repression in the early Seventies. Classics read as if through a magnifying glass, seeking out the formula by which to digest the prose of the present. Salvador Espriu was likewise involved in this whole process, from a Hispanic perspective, with his most famous poetry: often against the grain, maintaining a difficult balance between the restrictions of the post-war period, the austere shadow of his own disposition and the call of the masses as they danced

towards a future of freedoms and other panaceas. This distinguished gentleman, with his head held high behind his forbiddingly literary glasses, appears in a video of the 1st Catalan Popular Poetry Festival at the Price (1970). There he addresses an audience much given to cheering and chanting: «We loathe big bellies, big words, The indecent ostentation of gold, The misdealt cards of fortune, The thick fumes of incense for the powerful». Espriu keeps his eyes on his paper the whole time: he does not seem to be reciting from memory, as the Russian poets do, commonly known/age-old poems stuffed inside their heads. La Pell de Brau (1960) marks a departure from the bulk of Espriu’s work, the more spiritual side, flirting with mystical experience, to give voice to a historical urgency. The individual was becoming a community, the «I» giving way to an uncertain «we» of so many lost days, and, as in poem XXV, it became vital to «speak the truth», to serve the people and help them overcome their fear. Literature became a declaration, writers were seen as a political phenomenon. «That is how things work under totalitarian conditions,» wrote Václav Havel many years later in his memoirs, referring to his own experiences as a Czechoslovakian dissident. In the Hispanic circles of the Europe which stretched beyond the

Iron Curtain, under the aegis of a few universities which were wellconnected in the publishing world certain Catalan authors, including Espriu, were very decently translated and published in great numbers. Spanish critics and authors travelled on various occasions to Moscow and other cities to intensify contact with the Hispano-Soviet Literature Commission created under the auspices of the USSR’s Writers’ Union. The ethical position of Espriu, the poet of Sinera, had to be interpreted in a Marxist vein during the Franco era by the official ideology of such countries, who saw in him a symbol of Spanish Republican resistance. Many readers must, however, have reached a more unorthodox interpretation, as an underlying criticism of their local dictatorships, while progressing towards the new fire of glasnost. In the literary history of the Soviet Union we find a figure comparable to the stature of Espriu in Anna Akhmatova, the plaintive muse of 20th-century Russian lyric poetry. Both figures seem to reflect the same stoicism in response to personal misfortune, and a symbolic identification with the sufferings of the people, both completely ruling out the path of exile. Poet and translator Natalia Vanhanen perceived this parallel when, as she introduced Russian readers to a number of poems from Llibre de Sinera (1963),

| compartir | october • november • december 2011

she referred to the introductory lines of Requiem (1961). Words translated by A.S. Kline as «No, not under a foreign sky, no, not cradled by foreign wings. Then, I was with my people, I,with my people, there, sorrowing». In the Czechoslovakia of the day, the dissemination of Espriu’s work came through the translator Jan Schejbal, who published Catalan literary works under the Odeon imprint. In the foreword to an anthology published in 1980, he traces a series of similarities between the fates of Czechs and Catalans. The text is entitled «The poet of the night of his people» («Básník noci svého národu»), a reference to the role of guide or prince which Espriu’s lyrical ego took on at the head of his people in poems such as The Governor («El Governador»). Schejbal today stresses that the aim of this work was to suggest a parallel vision of the period of «normalisation» imposed by the new Communist leaders after the Prague Spring, and the reality of Spain under Franco. The argued historical similarities between the two peoples lead Schejbal to refer to 11 September 1714 as the Catalans’ own Battle of the White Mountain, against the backdrop of the military clash in 1620 which marked the end of Bohemia’s independence as a kingdom and enforced Germanification, along with the emigration of much of the Czech aristocracy.

Espriu was a phenomenon with a historical dimension, above all during the time when poetry was called upon to shape the future, in Catalonia and abroad. It was later that we decided to reread other manifestations of Espriu: the existential profiles and pained, baroque density; the mythological correlations of a collective chronology; or the

explorations of Jewish mystic heritage. Josep Maria Castellet claimed recently that La Pell de Brau is perhaps «too prophetic a work to ignite overly bold hopes». Which is why these verses invite us to consider the dreams and disappointments of the political transitions of contemporary Europe.

La pell de brau

We shall speak the truth, without end, for the honor of serving, under the foot of all. We loathe great bellies and great words, the indecent showiness of gold, the poorly dealt cards of luck, the thick smoke of incense set before the powerful. Now the land of the mighty is vile and grovels in hatred like a dog, barking far off, nearby enduring the stick, beyond the mire pursuing paths of death. With a song, in the dark we erect tall dream walls to protect us from the uproar. At night the rustle of many fountains comes: we are closing the doors on fear. Salvador Espriu

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Keith Adams


| Joma

Scars on Earth: Ferocious

Espriu foundation

| compartir | is the means of expression of the Espriu Foundation.

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